Like a swan from a raven: the historiographical image of William Wallace, 1297-1582

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Fraser, James E.
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an examination of the development of the way in which William Wallace and his career were assessed and described in British historiography from Wallace's lifetime to the publication of George Buchanan's 'Rerum Scoticarum Historia' in 1582. Beginning with the image of William Wallace constructed by his English contemporaries, the thesis traces the extent to which each subsequent image drew upon its predecessors, isolating four distinct stages or phases of development. The first of these, termed the Edwardian image, was constructed within the English chronicles contemporary with Wallace. The most significant influence shaping the second stage, termed the Brucean image, was exerted by Robert Bruce, whose self-interested propaganda included a consideration of Wallace and his career. In the fifteenth century, the Wallace image entered into a third stage, founded upon the Brucean image but greatly influenced by popular legend, imagination, and fifteenth-century issues. In its fourth stage, the image was altered to suit Renaissance attitudes within a Scotland that was decreasingly anti-English.

William Wallace, British historiography, Edwardian image, Brucean image, popular legend, imagination, fifteenth-century issues, Renaissance attitudes, Scotland